Florida’s projected 2012 budget deficit is about $100 million more than forecast in December, the state Legislature’s chief economist said.
The $3.6 billion estimate is mostly due to higher projected expenses for Medicaid, the government health-care system for the poor, Amy Baker said today. The projected 2012 deficit, now about 14 percent of the anticipated general-fund budget, was $2.5 billion last September.
“The two big changes were to the general-revenue forecast and to the Medicaid program,” Baker said in a telephone interview after she issued her forecast to the Senate Budget Committee in Tallahassee.
The new estimate doesn’t include the cost of rebuilding Florida’s reserve funds, Baker said. Reserves are now at about 5 percent of general-fund revenue after being tapped to balance previous budgets. If the state were to replenish the funds to 10 percent of revenue, the budget gap would grow by about $1 billion, Baker said.
Florida’s Republican governor, Rick Scott, elected in November with promises to reduce spending, said yesterday the budget gap is “nothing” compared with that of other large states and that outlay reductions would be sufficient to fill the gap.
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